It’s time again for the Taylors Wines Top 5, where we wrap up the best of Australia’s professional players in the media this week (and also give you a great wine tip courtesy of Taylors)!
This week sees the Australian Men’s and Women’s Rugby Sevens teams in action at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast. It’s the first time that the Women’s team have ever competed at the Commonwealth Games, while the Men are looking for our first ever Gold Medal in this event, so with that in mind we’ve dedicated all five articles this week to Rugby Sevens.
For details about the Rugby Sevens competition at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, including schedules, click here, with the Women’s team playing their first match at 6pm (AEST) on Friday and the Men in action for the first time at 9:30am on Saturday.
All four Australian Super Rugby teams are also in action this weekend in a Saturday triple-header; the Rebels host the Jaguares in Melbourne at 3:15pm, the Brumbies travel to Dunedin to face the Highlanders at 5:35pm and Rugby returns to the SCG as the Waratahs host the Reds at 7:45pm.
Click here for full list of Round Nine Super Rugby fixtures.
1. Ellia's wonderful surprise
Two weeks ago you may have read about the surprise that Alicia Quirk, and most of her teammates, received when called back into team headquarters for dinner with their parents there to surprise them.
This story, however, takes it to the next level and was a lay down misere as the opener in this week’s Taylors Wines Top 5. Ellia Green’s mum Yolanta has been fighting cancer for several years and due to her treatments is often unable to travel to Aussie sevens games and functions. Ellia had hugged her mum goodbye several weeks ago, believing she wouldn’t be coming up from Melbourne to the Commonwealth Games, but an elaborate plan, hatched by the other parents of the Aussie women’s saw Yolanta this week conduct an epic journey up the east coast to surprise Ellia.
Yolanta first caught a train from Melbourne to Sydney, where she met Tracy and Don Caslick — the parents of Aussie star Charlotte — who’d flown down from Queensland to pick her up. They then drove all the way back to Brisbane, before making their way to the Sunshine Coast, where the Aussie team have been in camp. The Fiji-born flier explained to Iain Payten what happened next…
“Walshy (coach Tim Walsh) called me to come down for an interview, but there, behind the stand, was my mum waiting for me… like a kid waiting for a school bus! She just broke down in my arms, crying.”
“I was just shell-shocked. I had no idea. She has been going through treatments and stuff. The fact she was able to make it here after 22 hours travel time is just amazing. That was so special.”
Green goes on to detail the levels of family support among the team, and the bond she shares with her mother; click here to read the full, amazing, story.
2. Maurice details his meteoric rise
Of all the stars to shine this year for the Australian Men’s Rugby Sevens team, few have done so as brightly as indigenous rookie Maurice Longbottom. His story has been told a few times this year, but never to this extent; and never has he laid bare his emotions and insecurities like he did in this interview with The Roar’s Andre Cupido.
When Maurice first arrived at Australian Rugby Sevens training, Longbottom compared it to being “back at his first day of school”. He sauntered around the training paddock completely clueless as to what he had to do. He didn’t even own a Rugby ball.
“I felt like I was at a party and everyone was wearing black and I was wearing white,” he said. “I just felt like I stood out and I was just standing there and was thinking – what do I do here?”
That moment, he left training and bought himself his first Rugby ball before taking his girlfriend to the park to help practice his accuracy. His meteoric rise continued to the point that he was selected for his World Rugby Sevens series debut in the season-opening tournament in Dubai. But that doesn’t mean he always feels like he belongs at this level…
“When I get into the tunnel and I see the other team I tell myself that I’m not good enough to be here, I just question myself,” Longbottom admitted. “It’s just a mental battle I fight with myself and it only started in Dubai. I’ve done a bit of work with someone at training, she tells me just to touch the ground when I run out and bring myself back down to the ground. And before every game Friendy (coach Andy Friend) comes up to me and says ‘you’re good enough to be here, go do what you do and go out and kill it.”
Click here to read the full article, where he also talks about recovering from injury for the Commonwealth Games.
3. Charlotte is here to stay!
She was one of the absolute biggest stars of the Gold Medal winning team in Rio de Janeiro, and Charlotte Caslick has told the Gold Coast Bulletin’s Connor O’Brien that she lives for these big moments; and has no intention of walking away any time soon!
Rival footy codes are on the hunt for more female star power but Caslick hosed down any thought of her jumping ship.
“Rugby sevens has so much more to offer at this stage,” she said. “We’ve obviously got the Olympic Games, Commonwealth Games, a World Series, a Rugby World Cup, we travel the world - there’s so many benefits to Rugby that I wouldn’t be able to pass up at the moment.”
The 23-year-old is proud of how far the female involvement in her sport has come since Rio and believes success this weekend at Cbus Super Stadium will be pivotal to continuing that trend.
“If we can have a successful campaign in Australia and be able to play an exciting brand of Rugby and get more kids, boys and girls, wanting to play Rugby sevens, (that) is definitely one of our goals.”
Click here to read the full article, including Coach Tim Walsh’s praise for his playmaker.
4. Tom to step up as one of our leaders
Injury means that the Australian Men’s team go into the Commonwealth Games robbed of the services of leaders Lewis Holland, Ed Jenkins and James Stannard, however there is no shortage of players ready to step into the void. Jesse Parahi has been named as Stand-In Captain, and alongside him he will be able to draw upon the experience and Rugby brain of Tom Lucas.
Lucas is one of three brothers playing professional Rugby in Australia, with youngest brother Isaac named in the Australian U20s earlier this week and on track to join them, and while the other brothers are focusing on the XVs side of the game (they’ve all played Sevens) ‘Tuck’ told Murray Wenzel that he is captivated by the chance to play the abbreviated format at the Commonwealth Games.
"They (older brothers Ben and Matt) loved their time here in the Sevens program but since then a bit's changed, it's a more professional sort of environment," Tom said. "The 15-a-side game will always be held in high international regard, but getting opportunities in Olympics and Commonwealth Games sets it apart.
"At end of day, I'm touring the world and I love it. It's crazy, it's a pretty good time. I made my (World Series) debut on the Gold Coast and I'll never forget that, so Comm Games on home soil will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."
5. Dom can’t wait to do Australia proud
Like Lucas, Dominique du Toit missed the Olympic Games in Rio, but while Tom was injured for Du Toit it was a case of missing selection. The 13th woman for the tournament, she was just eighteen at the time, but she now finds herself firmly ensconced in the Australian team and excited for her first tournament of this stature.
In a blog she penned for World Rugby, she reflects on a record-breaking Sydney Sevens victory and reveals her excitement for the coming weekend.
“Last week, I took my first steps inside the Athletes’ Village. It is amazing. The food, the rooms, the atmosphere. Everything is on point. There’s even a smoothie stand and ice-cream bar ... for when competition finishes of course!
“The atmosphere among everyone is incredible. I’m very lucky to be in a team sport where we are always cheering for, encouraging and supporting each other through the highs and lows, but being a part of a larger Team Australia where everyone is from a range of different sports and backgrounds and are all supporting each other, is very special and unique.
“I have been fortunate enough to be involved in several multi-sport events through the Youth Olympic Games, Youth Commonwealth Games, the Pacific Games and Olympic Games.
“When you pull on the jersey you’re not just representing Australian Rugby but a whole Australian team and that is very exciting and such an honour. Walking out into the stadium for the Opening Ceremony alongside such inspiring and phenomenal athletes that really became apparent. Hearing the roar of support from the crowd made me so proud to be Australian and so honoured to be able to wear the green blazer with the coat of arms on my chest.”
Click here to read the full blog, where she also talks about the team’s warm-up matches in Las Vegas and preparing for one final tournament under the guidance of Tim Walsh.
And now, for an exclusive tip from our friends at Taylors Wines, and this week we’re teaching you about decanting…
The primary advantage of decanting wine is that it allows the wine to breathe, and this is especially important with premium red wines.
When a wine is being poured into a decanter it aerates the wine, then the decanter itself increases the surface contact of the wine with the atmosphere. On the other hand, simply removing the cork rather than decanting wine doesn’t allow much air into the bottle, and it will probably take hours for the wine to benefit from air contact.
Find out more about wine on the Taylors Wines website.